We were recently at the largest search conference in Europe, SMX London 2016, where the driving theme was “users above all”. Optimizing for the best user experience has consistently been the single most important goal for search marketers and businesses to win new customers in the ever more competitive paid and organic search landscape.
The conference was attended by dozens of search and online marketing agencies, companies looking to sharpen their edge in search marketing, search technology companies as well as search engines, industry experts and the press.
As we’ve done in the past, this post aims to cover the key areas of growth in organic search and social media and summarizing key takeaways from SMX London 2016.
THE IMPORTANCE OF KEYWORD RESEARCH
Several new ideas and tactics were discussed, such as blending in content marketing and social media research into the keyword discovery and the management process for SEO. The central topic was the importance of gathering data on semantic entities (things, objects, etc.) rather than individual keywords. Advances in the usage and reliability of voice search and the increasing trend of complex long tail searches require significant changes in focusing on semantics and topics, expanding the target keyword pool to a much wider scope to maximize traffic opportunities.
EMBRACING CONTENT MARKETING
Content was discussed as still being the central driver for SEO and a marketing process that continues to be largely underinvested by most companies and agencies. Customers today want relevant and personalized content experiences, they want to consume content in bite size chunks readily available across their favorite platforms and devices. One case study was demonstrated by SAP on customized home pages. SAP tested industry themed customization on their home page, served to specific IP ranges of known large companies, such as financial institutions and oil companies. These companies received specific articles, news and other content formats on the home page, relevant to their industries. As a result, SAP saw 6 times higher engagement rates and significant levels of increase in conversions.
IT’S STILL ALL ABOUT LINKS AND LINK BUILDING
Links are still very important, in fact they are the number one ranking factor. That said, link-building practices used in the past don’t tend to work anymore. In fact, existing low quality links may harm SEO performance and search engines have devised new smart algorithms to catch non-conforming sites that do low quality link building. The focus this year was therefore very heavily focused on link cleanup, link audit and link-based penalty recovery and less on viable practices to earn links. SEO specialists therefore, need to embrace new practices and constantly be on track to ensure that they’re technically up to standard.
THE AUDIENCE IS THE START AND END-POINT
As search and social continue to converge, the recurrent challenge that continues to face marketers is finding the sweet spot that engages audiences through seamless, platform-agnostic content. This task requires mastering content creation as a creative art on one hand, and a technical data-driven craft on the other hand. Some of the key out-of-the-box solutions for idea generation that we came across during the conference was to utilize user generated media to inform content strategy. Echoing the recurrent theme of the conference of “users above all”, an important method to create content that resonates with the audience is to look into what the audience is already hooked on, whether it is through scanning Reddits to qualify content ideas based on user up-votes, or getting inspiration from Pinterest suggestions. Once the content ideas, the “art”, is set, the success of a content piece becomes dependent on the marketer’s fluency in both search and social, whose job will be to engineer the piece of content with the right keywords, the right formats, and the right delivery to reach the audience it is intended to
SMX has always been an excellent forum for agencies, clients and technology partners to address the issues the industry is facing. It was refreshing to see that a big goal was to break down the barriers between different specializations and seeing how they can work together.
We at Resolution, are already working towards up-skilling all our teams, and turning social and SEO specialists alike into digital marketing experts.
This post was co-written by our resident SEO expert, Adrian Turcsan and our social specialist, Khaled Sharrouf. If you’re interested in talking to them about taking your digital marketing efforts to the next level, contact us.